What a Meal Can Mean

The Thistle Farm’s motto is, “Love Heals Every Body.” If you spent some time with the women who work there, you would it’s true.

My husband Mark and I went to Whole Foods on Saturday morning because Thistle Farms was doing a special event. We sell their candles and bath products at our home goods store. Thistle Farms employs graduates of Magdalene, a recovery center in Nashville for women who have lived lives of prostitution, drug addiction and abuse. I wanted to meet some of them and get a picture for our Facebook page.

Mark and I started talking to Cynthia and Jordan of Thistle Farms about our new home goods business Catherine’s Table and how much we love their products, and then I asked them if they would like to join us for dinner. Cynthia took my cell number, Mark and I bought extra food, and I wished and hoped that they would join us. They did!

Cynthia, Jordan, Gayle and Shana finished their tour of duty at several Whole Foods markets in Atlanta and arrived with dessert.  They were all so friendly and easy to be with. It was an instant love fest (for me anyway.) While eating turkey burgers and salad, their stories flowed. They were shocking and so sad. Imagine spending 26 years in prison, part of the time on death row, for what would be called justifiable homicide as a result of Battered Wife Syndrome today? The gentle, soft-spoken woman, who served this time, is now one of the leaders of manufacturing for Thistle Farms. Consider surviving and thriving after working for a pimp, being beaten regularly, and living in the haze of a drug consumed life for a decade.

These women were all remarkably positive, warm and eager to continue to build Thistle Farms and their lives. Cynthia is a born saleswoman with an Ultra Brite smile. With her dynamic personality, I envision Shana in a city council chamber someday. Gayle is a quiet and effective leader and Jordan, who works in manufacturing, is as sweet and loving as you would want a friend to be. You can tell how much they care about one another.

Gayle invited me to a class at Thistle Farms in Nashville. They all offered to come back and speak to the girls at my daughter’s school. These women are about growing, giving and gratitude. I love who they are in the world right now. As we begin the journey that is Catherine’s Table, how lucky are we to have met Gayle, Cynthia, Shana and Jordan? And without that simple meal, we would have missed a remarkable demonstration of the power of love and perseverance.